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Extra-Biblical Testimony on the Plagues of Egypt 

Have you heard of Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage, or The Ipuwer Papyrus?

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • February 26, In the year of our Lord, 2017

Scripture Reader and Reading: Michael Crisp – Exodus 9.13–21

Song Leader and Song Suggestions: Phil Joseph – Songs on the Bible


  1. Archaeology can get a little…as Wayne Jackson said once…dusty, so I will try to keep it short. 
  2. During the movie Patterns of Evidence
    1. to which I have made numerous references,
    2. Tim Mahoney revealed the Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage,
      1. written by a man named Ipuwer,
      2. who was admonishing a pharaoh
        1. for devastation that either that pharaoh or another one,
        2. had allowed to happen in Egypt.
  3. The movie revealed several pieces of evidence 
    1. that show the exodus of Israel out of Egypt
    2. happened as pictured in the Book of Exodus.
      1. One of those evidences was the Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage,
      2. also known as The Ipuwer Papyrus.
        1. We have titled it Admonitions, because
        2. an Egyptian sage admonished a pharaoh
          1. not to let Egypt fall into ruin and chaos
          2. as a previous pharaoh had.
  4. Unfortunately, we do not have all the document. 
    1. The beginning and the end, and
    2. pieces in the middle are missing throughout,
      1. as often happens with ancient documents thousands of years old.
      2. However, we have enough to see the horrible conditions
        1. that existed in Egypt after the Ten Plagues.
        2. Ipuwer does not so much speak of the plagues as much as the results.


  1. Ipuwer and His Admonitions 
    1. David Rohl, a British Egyptologist and historian, said of Ipuwer,

      “…Ipuwer was an eyewitness to a calamitous era in Egyptian history when…foreigners had brought the great civilization of Egypt to its knees. The wise sage confronts the reigning pharaoh of the time to admonish him for his failure to rectify the dire situation” (Exodus: Myth or History?, page 150).

      1. He then shows parallels between
      2. the Book of Exodus and the Admonitions of Ipuwer.
    2. Mr. Rohl, who is also an agnostic,
      1. says this about a passage in the Admonitions
      2. that seems to reference the pharaoh who let in Jacob and his family,

        “In an extraordinary parallel to the biblical story, Ipuwer laments the fact that one of the earlier pharaohs had not wiped out those Asiatics who first arrived in Egypt during the late 12th Dynasty. We now know that Egyptian king was Amenemhat III—the pharaoh who had invited Jacob and his clan to settle in the region of Gesem or Goshen in the second year of the great famine. Ipuwer and all Egypt now knew the consequences of that act of kindness…and the subsequent act of cruelty which turned the descendants of Amenemhat’s guests into slaves a few generations later” (p. 151, ellipsis in the original).
      3. Mr. Rohl then quoted from Ipuwer,

        “There is fire in their hearts! If only (Amenemhat?) had perceived their nature in the first generation! Then he would have smitten the evil—stretched out his arm against it. He would have destroyed their seed and their heritage” (p. 151).
    3. Egyptologists offer three objections to the Admonitions as the ten plagues:
      1. Chronology
        1. They date it hundreds of years before Israel entered Egypt, and
        2. they have Israel entering Egypt later than the accepted date.
      2. Miracles
        1. That the record is fantastical,
        2. it has the miraculous element.
      3. Self-Contradictory
        1. That it is self-contradictory, because
        2. it speaks of the rich suffering, but the poor prospering.
    4. The answer to those objections:
      1. The movie Patterns of Evidence dealt with the chronology problem.
      2. The Bible and the Admonitions as two witnesses show the plagues.
      3. Self-contradiction does not exist when you understand what happened.
  2. The Plagues 
    1. Most of the plagues alone would have devastated a nation.
    2. The plagues found in Exodus 7–12 were as follows:
      1. All above-ground sources of water turned to blood for seven days.
      2. All above-ground sources of water produced frogs covering all of Egypt.
      3. The dust of the land became lice on people and animals.
      4. The Lord sent swarms of flies through all the land and houses.
      5. All the livestock of Egypt died by a pestilence.
      6. Boils broke out into sores on the Egyptians and their remaining animals.
      7. Heavy hail, mingled with fire, struck men, beast, and herbs.
      8. Ground-covering swarms of locusts destroyed what the hail did not.
        1. After this plague Pharaoh’s advisers told him
        2. that it was time to let Moses and Israel go,

          7 Then Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God. Do you not yet know that Egypt is destroyed?” (Exo 10.7).
      9. Darkness filled the land for three days.
      10. All the first born of Egypt of both man and beast died.
        1. Before this, God told the Israelites to ask something of the Egyptians,
        2. that reversed the fortunes of both Egyptian and Israelite dramatically,

          2 “Speak now in the hearing of the people, and let every man ask from his neighbor and every woman from her neighbor, articles of silver and articles of gold.” 3 And the LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people (Exo 11.2–3).
        3. The Admonitions has numerous references to reversal of fortune,
          1. which critics cannot figure out, but
          2. which the Bible explains.
  3. What Such Plagues Would Do to a Nation 
    1. What would happen to a nation, if it had no water for 7 days?
    2. How many other nations would trade with a nation filled with frogs, and then the stench from the dead frogs would keep anyone from going to work?
    3. Would you travel to Egypt, if the lice numbered as much as the dust?
    4. Have you tried camping where the flies cover everything?
    5. What would happen to a nation’s economy if
      1. all the livestock died,
      2. all people and remaining animals had boils,
      3. all plants died in a hail storm, and
      4. what new plants started to grow locusts destroyed?
    6. Would people travel to a nation and within a nation in total darkness?
    7. Lastly,
      1. who would want to work and
      2. what nations would want to trade with a nation
        1. where the first born of all families, and
        2. where all the remaining animals died in one night?
  4. Ipuwer’s Record of Egypt’s Devastation 
    1. Was such devastation recorded by anyone in Egypt?
      1. Yes, and this is what first caught my attention.
      2. The Bible shows the Plagues from the view of God and the Israelites.
    2. However, the Egyptians are the ones who suffered the Plagues.
      1. How did they experience them?
      2. Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage show the devastation from their view.
    3. Ipuwer spoke to a pharaoh of the conditions. A few selections:

      A man regards his son as his enemy.

      Indeed, the face is pale

      Indeed, poor men have become owners of wealth, and he who could not make sandals for himself is now a possessor of riches.

      Indeed, men’s slaves, their hearts are sad, and magistrates do not fraternize with their people when they shout.
      Indeed, [hearts] are violent, pestilence is throughout the land, blood is everywhere, death is not lacking, and the mummy-cloth speaks even before one comes near it.
      Indeed, many dead are buried in the river; the stream is a sepulcher and the place of embalmment has become a stream.
      Indeed, noblemen are in distress, while the poor man is full of joy. Every town says: “Let us suppress the powerful among us.”
      Indeed, men are like ibises. Squalor is throughout the land, and there are none indeed whose clothes are white in these times.
      Indeed, the land turns around as does a potter’s wheel; the robber is a possessor of riches and [the rich man is become] a plunderer.

      Indeed, the river is blood, yet men drink of it. Men shrink from human beings and thirst after water.

      Indeed, the desert is throughout the land, the nomes are laid waste, and barbarians from abroad have come to Egypt.

      Indeed, men arrive [. . .] and indeed, there are no Egyptians anywhere.
      Indeed, gold and lapis lazuli, silver and turquoise, carnelian and amethyst, Ibhet-stone and [. . .] are strung on the necks of maidservants. Good things are throughout the land, (yet) housewives say: “Oh that we had something to eat!”

      Indeed, the builders [of pyramids have become] cultivators

      They come no more; gold is lacking [. . .] and materials for every kind of craft have come to an end. The [. . .] of the palace is despoiled.

      What can we do about it? All is ruin!

      Indeed, hair [has fallen out] for everybody, and the man of rank can no longer be distinguished from him who is nobody.

      Indeed, trees are felled and branches are stripped off.

      “there is no food [. . .]. What is the taste of it like today?”

      neither fruit nor herbage can be found [for] the birds, and [. . .] is taken away from the mouth of the pig. No face is bright which you have [. . .] for me through hunger.

      Indeed, everywhere barley has perished and men are stripped of clothes, spice, and oil; everyone says: “There is none.” The storehouse is empty and its keeper is stretched on the ground; a happy state of affairs! . . .
      Would that I had raised my voice at that moment, that it might have saved me from the pain in which I am.
      Behold, the fire has gone up on high, and its burning goes forth against the enemies of the land.

      Behold, he who had no property is now a possessor of wealth, and the magnate praises him.
      Behold, the poor of the land have become rich, and the [erstwhile owner] of property is one who has nothing.

      All is ruin!

      The overseer of [. . .] the trees, the poor [. . .. . .] in their midst like Asiatics [. . .]. Men [. . .] the state thereof; they have come to an end of themselves; none can be found to stand up and protect themselves [. . .].

  5. The Bible and The Admonitions Compared (From Mahoney)

    “The Bible says [God speaking to Moses]:
    “‘Take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, The water you take from the Nile will become blood on the ground.’” EXODUS 4:9

    Ipuwer writes:
    “Behold, Egypt is fallen to the pouring of water. And he who poured water on the ground seizes the mighty in misery.” IPUWER 7:5

    The Bible says:
    “And all the water in the Nile was turned to blood. The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad the Egyptians could not drink water from it.” EXODUS 7:20-21

    Ipuwer writes:
    “The River is blood. If you drink of it, you lose your humanity, and thirst for water.” IPUWER 2:10

    The Bible says:
    “All the Egyptian livestock died . . . . Lightning struck the earth, and the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt. . . . The flax and the barley were destroyed.” EXODUS 9:6, 9:23, 9:31

    Ipuwer writes:
    “Gone is the barley of abundance . . . . Food supplies are running short. The nobles hunger and suffer . . . . Those who had shelter are in the dark of the storm.” IPUWER 6:3, 3:3, 7:13

    “The Bible says:
    “[The locusts] covered the surface of the whole land so that the land was black, and they consumed all the plants on the ground and all the fruit on the trees that the hail had left. . . . Pharaoh’s officials asked him, ‘How long must this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, so that they may worship Yahweh their God. Don’t you realize yet that Egypt is devastated?’” EXODUS 10:15, 10:7

    Ipuwer writes:
    “What shall we do about it? All is ruin!” IPUWER 3:13

    The Bible says:
    “Now at midnight the LORD struck every firstborn male in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the prisoner who was in the dungeon, and every firstborn of livestock.” EXODUS 12:29

    Ipuwer writes:
    “Behold, plague sweeps the land, blood is everywhere, with no shortage of the dead . . . . He who buries his brother in the ground is everywhere . . . . Woe is me for the grief of this time.” IPUWER 2:5, 6, 13, 4:3

    The Bible says:
    “And there was a loud wailing throughout Egypt because there wasn’t a house without someone dead.” EXODUS 12:30

    Ipuwer writes:
    “Wailing is throughout the land, mingled with lamentations.” IPUWER 3:14”

  6. What This Means 
    1. For the Book of Exodus
    2. For the Bible
    3. For the Abrahamic Promise
    4. For the People of the World, especially for the Church

      17 For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth” (Rom 9.17).